In June 2014, Newzoo and Overwolf launched a new monthly ranking service that gives insight into the popularity of individual PC games in the US and Europe. The ranking is based on number of unique sessions during a calendar month amongst millions of game enthusiasts that use Overwolf’s in-game software. This month we investigate session times in more depth and have a closer look at Turkey.
The September 2014 rankings show that the top 5 games of August 2014 remain unchallenged. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft remains at Number 5, with Valve’s Counter Strike: Global Offensive holding onto fourth position. Blizzard’s fifth World Of Warcraft expansion Warlords of Draenor will be launching on the 13th of November 2014, so it will be interesting to see what effect that has on the November rankings after release. Wargaming’s F2P juggernaut World of Tanks holds steady at rank 3, having done so since May 2014. So far the $2.5 billion acquisition of Mojang by Microsoft on the 15th of September has had no visible effect on Minecraft, which remains at the number two position. Riot Game’s League of Legends continues to remain at Rank 1, having done so for the 6 months Newzoo has published these rankings, clearly revealing not only a devoted and enthusiastic gamer fan base but the lasting power of competitive eSports titles.
MMO Eruption, Mod Disruption
There are a few outliers to the rankings as we move past the stable Top 5. As noted in our August 2014 Rankings, Trion World’s ArcheAge entered Beta and quickly moved into Rank 19 for that month. Following the official Western release of the game on Sept 16 (having been playable in Korea since January 2013) the MMO has erupted into the Top Ten Rankings, reaching Number 8. This is an interesting contrast to the other recently released MMO, NCSoft’s Wildstar, which entered our Rankings in June 2014 and subsequently disappeared. It’s worth pointing out that while ArcheAge is F2P, Wildstar is subscription based, strongly impacting the absolute number of gamers and unique sessions played.
As one title rises, another falls: Bohemia Interactive’s DayZ has fallen 8 places to Rank 14. Taking a broader look at the ranks we see an overall decline in titles that are Mods (or were Mods now stand alone titles) of existing games: Valve’s Garry’s Mod has fallen 2 places to Rank 13, with Valve’s Team Fortress 2 falling 1 spot to Rank 17. The overall movement of the Mod titles are relatively calm, indicating a core stability that comes from being player driven, community focused titles. Gaijin Entertainment’s War Thunder Beta has seemingly capitalized on its community driven popularity, continuing its climb that begin in August another 2 places to Rank 16.
WolfTeam Finds Unique Success in Turkey
As noted, League of Legends has dominated the Top 20 rankings for almost half of year, being the top title in most Western European countries. This is not the case in Turkey however, where it comes in at #4. Topping the charts is the MMOFPS Wolfteam, developed by AeriaGames (In fact, Turkey is one of the only country where Wolfteam features in the Top 20 Rankings). Wolfteam is followed by Mgame’s Knight Online and Valve’s Counter Strike: Condition Zero. The difference in unique session rankings between Turkey and the total U.S./ Europe is one of the reasons Newzoo drills down into regional market data, illustrating the importance of localization and regional specific insights.
Star Wars: The Old Republic Gamers Play Three Hours On End
Looking at the average game session time per title unearths some fantastic insights. It becomes immediately apparent that longer play sessions are not always an indicator of success: League of Legends at #1 has an average game session time of just under 32 minutes. Minecraft comes in higher at around 71 minutes while World of Tanks has an average game session time that is almost 4 times that of League of Legend’s: Around 129 minutes.
While the average session time for the Top 20 Ranked Games combined is 71mins, it’s more important to look at how time spend equates with genre and how it affects the overall Rankings. MMO titles have higher AVG session times than MOBA’s or FPS: World of Warcraft (~112 min) and Guild Wars 2 (~126min) versus Counter Strike: Global Offensive (~63min) and Dota 2 (~88 min). The Top 20 game with the highest average session time overall is naturally an MMO — Star Wars: The Old Republic with an average session time of just under 184 mins. These numbers clearly indicate the difference in game styles and time spend between different genres, revealing a deeper understanding of the time requirements (and restraints) of gamers that favour one genre over another. eSports and FPS gamers who play titles like League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter Strike are attracted to the quick action and fast instance times of the genre, whereas MMO gamers appreciate the longer character development time and exploration that are atypical for the MMO genre.
Overall this data underlines the importance of data segmentation into screens and genres as to furnish valuable, actionable gaming intelligence.
[a]listdaily Analysis by Steve Peterson
The more things change, the more they remain the same, as the top of the list is rock solid — but the bottom 15 titles are in ferment. It’s critical to remember that this list is all about time spent playing the game, which is not the same as sales at retail or sales of virtual content. Certainly most of these games are free-to-play, and most have a strong list of virtual goods for sale — but not all. Minecraft is purely based on retail sales with no virtual goods for sale at all, for instance, and World of Warcraft mostly relies on its subscriptions for revenue with very little virtual goods revenue.
When you look at the fact that Minecraft has such amazing numbers of hours played, you have to think Microsoft will be wondering how to turn that to their advantage. Of course, that would have to be done without killing demand for the game. Perhaps hosting Minecraft servers on Microsoft’s Azure, and bring that Wild West of Minecraft third-party companies under control of Microsoft There are many interesting possibilities, but Microsoft will probably take it’s time deciding how to proceed.
Roughly speaking, though, this index of time spent playing games shows you just how well various games are doing, and how well some aren’t. Despite all the early problems, and the move away from subscriptions, EA’s Star Wars: The Old Republic is doing quite well. It seems reasonable to expect that the interest in the game will only increase as the new Star Wars movies get closer and the overall excitement for the IP rises.
Meanwhile, Hearthstone took a bit of a dip, which is surprising given the positive response to the recent Naxxramas expansion. Of course, some of that may be due to more players using iPads to play the game instead of PCs, simply because the form factor is much more convenient. Only Blizzard knows for sure, but it certainly seems that Hearthstone is quite popular still.
An interesting way to look at this is to see the correlation between the top PC titles in terms of play time, and the top games that are being streamed. Exactly where causation enters into this is unclear (does streaming get more people to play the games, or does more people playing mean more streaming ), but this correlation underscores the importance of streaming in today’s PC game market.
Overwolf is a customizable in-game overlay platform that has been installed in over 8 million PCs. This community of hardcore PC gamers are consistently making their own apps within the Overwolf platform and sharing them. Why Because it’s super simple and it enhances the gameplay experience of anyone’s favorite title in a personal way. From in-game chat systems to customized controls, streaming or video capture, Overwolf allows users to implement their own visions into these games and do so in a timely manner.
Newzoo is the leading global market research firm focused purely on the games market. The company provides its clients with a mix of primary consumer research, transactional data and financial analysis across all continents, screens and business models. It is also known for actively sharing a variety of insights by means of free trend reports, infographics, blogposts and monthly rankings. New zoo’s clients include Tencent, SEGA, Logitech, Wizards of the Coast, Nvidia, Microsoft, EA, Coca-Cola and Visa/PlaySpan.